Bitcoin’s price hit an all-time record high Monday as positive market factors converged. Meanwhile, ether options traders are paying heavy premiums on the asset’s potential to hit new records as well.
Bitcoin’s price hit an all-time high in the past 24 hours, trading as much as $19,850, according to CoinDesk 20 data. The price then dipped and was at $19,436 as of press time.
“Institutional inflows may have been much of the driving force behind this rally, but it’s been retail investors that have helped bitcoin pick up steam in recent weeks,” said Zac Prince, chief executive officer of crypto lender BlockFi. ”Balances on our retail accounts have grown over 25% in the last 30 days, compared to just under 10% for institutional,” he added.
Major spot exchanges, where retail customers casually buy the world’s oldest cryptocurrency, have seen an uptick. Combined daily volume for Coinbase, Bitstamp, Kraken, Gemini and ItBit was at $1.5 billion as of press time Monday, much higher the $488 million average of the past six months.
The steady rise of bitcoin’s price since Saturday followed a drop during a market holiday in the U.S. last week that bitcoin as low as $16,242 on Thursday. The $3,608 price gain over the past week shows just how volatile cryptocurrency can often be.
"Bitcoin investors sitting on the sidelines of this recent rally got a Thanksgiving holiday gift as bitcoin saw a drop from $19,500 to $16,300,” noted Jason Lau, COO of San Francisco-based OKCoin. “Derivative liquidations led the move down as some derivatives exchanges lost over 20% of open interest,” he added.
Indeed, liquidations on derivatives exchange BitMEX, while not as significant of a venue as it once was, clearly had some impact on Thursday’s drop ($10 million in sell liquidations in an hour) and Monday’s rise ($4 million in by liquidations within an hour). A liquidation on BitMEX is akin to a margin call whereby a long is sold or a short triggers a buy to close out a position if it moves enough to wipe out the margin.
Bitcoin’s recent rise was not solely due to retail investors. Rich Rosenblum, who heads trading at crypto firm GSR, noted how much more infrastructure is in place for institutions to invest compared to bitcoin’s last bull run in 2017.
“The trading, settlement and custody services are all far more sophisticated and mature, which instills confidence,” he said. “The [Federal Reserve] continues to fan the flames with its monetary strategy, which looks to remain in place in the year to come. With so much excess liquidity in the system, the original investment case for bitcoin is being vindicated.”
Ether traders paying for bullish bets
The second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, ether, was up Monday trading around $605 and climbing 8.5% in 24 hours as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET).
The ether options put/call ratio on Deribit, the largest derivatives exchange in the crypto ecosystem, has been skewing heavily towards calls over the past month. The put/call ratio shows the number of puts, which are options bets to price downside, versus calls, which are options bets to price upside.
“During the past month, when looking at the put/call ratio in terms of premium traded, we can see an abnormally high ratio of calls trading to puts,” noted Greg Magadini, chief executive officer of Genesis Volatility.
The bullish activity is so strong traders are doling out high premiums to make bullish bets on ether, noted Magadini. “Traders were quick to start paying higher prices for calls,” he told CoinDesk. “So much so that ... puts are 25 implied volatility points cheaper. This level of differential is rare and quite extreme.”
The all-time high of ether is $1,432, according to CoinDesk 20 data.
Digital assets on the CoinDesk 20 are all green Monday. Notable winners as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET):
- Asia’s Nikkei 225 ended the day in the red 0.79% despite a 28% gain for Tokyo Dome Corp. after news Friday of its $1.2 billion acquisition by Mitsui Fudosan Co.
- The FTSE 100 in Europe closed down 1.6% as Brexit talks between the U.K. and European Union enter a critical stage with a “no-deal” clause looming in just weeks.
- In the United States the S&P fell 0.60% as traders executed end-of-month sell strategies after a particularly strong November performance.
- Oil was down 0.80%. Price per barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude: $45.20.
- Gold was in the red 0.62% and at $1,776 as of press time.
- The 10-year U.S. Treasury bond yield climbed Monday, jumping to 0.846 and in the green 0.77%.
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